Kids get hurt more often when the weather's nice, we know this. But did you know that some ER doctors call it, “Trauma season”?
According to a recent story in the Akron Beacon Journal, nearly half a million U.S. kids end up in the emergency room each year with injuries suffered at the playground (205,000), on “unpowered toys with wheels” (scooters, inline skates, skateboards; 200,000), and on trampolines (90,000). Most of these injuries could have been prevented.
Tired as I get of the same old outdoor safety tips, this article opened my eyes to a few things. Well, as open as they could be while I was cringing.
You see, just the other day I let my sons, ages four and six, ride their scooters without helmets (they don’t go fast yet). Also, my neighbor has a little backyard trampoline that they have played on unattended.
What’s wrong with a trampoline, you ask? Brace yourself.
“Health professionals are so distraught by the injuries they cause – the number and severity – that many have a message for parents: Remove the trampoline, now!”
“We see neck injuries, really terrible injuries,” says Denise Dowd, of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., in the article. “Most of the time the injuries occur when more than one kid is jumping."
As for helmets, they're not just for bicycles, Dowd stresses. To prevent head injuries, kids must wear them when riding “anything with wheels,” she says, and throw in some wrist guards to prevent serious wrist injuries. Children under 16 should never ride all-terrain vehicles, she adds. “Kids don’t have the maturity to operate them safely.”
The story features many safety tips. Here are some that I hadn't heard before:
• Children should remove helmets at the playground, because the straps can get caught and cause choking.
• No child under age six should use a trampoline, and adults, preferably two, should supervise at all times.
• No somersaults on trampolines. "Landing on the head or neck can cause devastating injuries."
• When riding scooters or skateboards, "avoid surfaces with gravel and loose dirt," and remember that wearing a helmet "can prevent 85 percent of head injuries."
My six-year-old outgrew his helmet so, as of now, he doesn't even own one, never mind wrist guards. I'm hanging my head in shame. And planning a trip to Target.
Kris is a thirtysomething stay-at-home mom who lives north of Boston with her family.